John gave me my Christmas present early. It was…our stereo. Yes. The stereo we had all along. That I had cut off my hair to buy! No, psych. But it had only been in our possession in its entirety since 2011, along with all our records, which I bravely rescued, all on my lonesome, from Colonial Storage on Abercorn Extension outside Savannah. I had to kill the biggest brown recluse spider I have ever seen in my life, from which my mover, who had served two terms in Iraq as a Marine “ran away like a little girl” in his words. It was on the back of a mirror he was moving and he was able to set it down without breaking it, on account of military training, before running off in the aforesaid manner, and I picked up a piece of a chair and killed it. It wasn’t like we could do anything useful just knowing it was in there somewhere, right? [I will spare you from the further explanations of why we could not set up our stereo in our old house.]
Yes, so we shipped our records and stereo to Singapore. That was economically very rational and I don’t want to hear anything about the sunk costs fallacy and the excellent new (to me) 70s Boston Acoustics speakers and 70s Marantz receiver I could have bought at the Adelphi Mall for the same money. Because I would never have gotten the records. Sure, in principle, I could have bought the same records again, but I wouldn’t have, because I don’t know what records I have. Ha! Refute that, Chicago economics guy! Now, the answer is supposed to be that if I don’t want to listen to it for ten years I don’t want it. Not so fast Professor Nerdlinger! I might want to be surprised! Like, hey, “Come Dance With Bump?” Released in Asia on the label Music Girl? Which I might very well think I had hallucinated if I could not hold it and look at its astoundingly great, yet deeply mysterious cover? Bump is apparently the nom de dance of a super-hot black chick with striped stockings, purple platform shoes, and a gold and yellow fringed hot-pants one-piece. But maybe she’s not? Maybe Bump is the DJ playing songs to which you are meant to do the bump and…something? OK, on a listen the latter. I guess I bought this here and couldn’t listen to it for ages. So it was a bad example. I only happened to notice it in alphabetizing. My daughter was willing to help until I told her it was 3 letters deep and she was like l8rs, Imma listen to Vocaloid, which I have convinced iTunes to accept in hirgana and katakana, although this has created alphabetizing issures of its own…
This is too, in a way, is a bad example, because I wanted to listen to it so, so, so often. So many other things I bought or downloaded, but this eluded me. It was the first record of the…1000? 900? I have, that I listened to. The Songbirds of the South were a Memphis group that were totally amazing. I have only ever listened to a few songs of theirs. The thing that makes them so great is that they have a contralto with a really low voice, so they are able to really put gospel songs across in the way more famous male groups do. I could only find them on YouTube (which, do you remember how much your computer’s tinny speakers suck? They suck.) doing “He Is Able”:
The one I really wanted was “99 1/2 Won’t Do.” They kill that song. KILL IT. The only comparative degree to which a gospel group pwns a song is Bill Lanford and The Landforaires with “Run On.”
But the whole compilation is amazing. One sad thing is that there is a two part song “The Book of The Seven Seals” by The Brewsteraires that only gets around to the Pale Horse and then ends and the next side is just—another group ah WHAT?! It’s so incredible, where are my other Seals? They way they sing “he weighed the whole world and the world was found wanting” is beautiful and terrifying. The tenor sings in falsetto “weighed the whole world” and starting underneath before he is done the rest sing low “and the world was found wanting,” four times. Here is another song of theirs, “Where Shall I Be When That First Trumpet Sounds” that will still send shivers up your spine.
One of the songs that I used to be amused by like 15 years ago or something and had never really thought about it was “Bank in The Sky” by Queen C. Anderson and The Brewster Singers. The chorus is:
Still I’m laying up my treasures
In Heaven’s savings bank
In which I am a stockholder of highest rank
So rich in love, just rich in faith
Rich in God’s amazing grace
I’m getting richer, oh, I’m getting richer everyday.
I used to have it the wrong way around and think the misplaced materialism about heavenly wealth was silly. But now I think about Memphis in the 1950s and how none of these people could have any kind of savings account in any bank, let alone be a stockholder of highest rank, and I think the song is deeply sad.
She is really incredible, as are her all-female back-up singers; here they is doing “Jesus is The Perfect Answer.”
“Damn, Belle, did your family have some beloved black nanny who raised you like she was your own precious child and took you to her full gospel church* or something?” Well yeah duh.**
Edited to add: *I should be clear to non-American readers that while her church had a full gospel choir all the time they were also full gospel because they were…were they Pentecostal? No, they weren’t white, they had to be Baptist, right? Are there Pentecostal Baptists? [Looks…(sort of)....] They had faith healing but didn’t go so much for speaking in tongues, which is kind of full gospel Pentecostalism’s whole deal so…OK, no I guess they were regular Baptists. [Are there Methodist Baptists? Yes-ish also? Aw, dammit. Wait, that was innappropes.] I take it back; they were not a full gospel church, though they were full of the Holy Gospel etc., they were Baptists, of whatever sort started to ordain black people on the sooner side, one imagines. She got a plaque from her church for 75 years of service before she died, I went and saw her after my grandmother died, and she had gotten it, and was justifiably proud. I had the impression they always had a black preacher but I was a dumbass kid, she might have been going and getting condescended to by some white guy for the first 35 years of service. I don’t think so.
*It’s sort of not exactly like that. She lived at my grandmother’s house in Savannah, so she only raised me like her own precious child while I was in Savannah. Which was a lot. She took care of my father when he was a child also. She wanted to go live in the country on her brother’s farm, and ride a mule (I know because she told me all about it in loving, heartbreaking detail, naturally), but my grandfather made her swear just before he died that she would stay and take care of my grandmother (who was ill all her life). SWEAR. On his very deathbed. So she stayed, for always. Even though she hated the city. Forever. Until she retired at 80. Fuck, 85? She lived to be 103. And then her brother was dead and his children had sold the farm; there was nowhere to go but the house my grandmother built for her, with her grand-daughter’s house next door and her daughter’s house across the street, though her daughter had already died by then. EVEN THOUGH SHE LOVED THE COUNTRY. Even though my grandmother said she could go. My grandfather was a cocksucking bastard for making her promise that. Also, she was like, what, reverse dowry, bride-price? When my grandmother got married and moved into the Waring house Ms. Annie Washington was already working there. What, was she part of the fucking furniture? God, I loved her so much. I still miss her.